CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Charleston family wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would combat the statewide drug epidemic by allowing for a substance abuse recovery fund in West Virginia.
This is the second time Cece Brown is working to pass the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund Act after it failed to clear the state Legislature last year.
Brown’s son Ryan died of a heroin overdose inside the Macy’s bathroom at the Charleston Town Center Mall in April 2014.
“When those detectives came to tell me about it, I said at that time ‘I don’t want one more person to die,'” Brown said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
That’s why she wants to provide a venue for funds to be contributed to individuals who need drug treatment.
“This will be tied directly to the person,” she said of the fund. “I don’t want any money that I ask someone to donate — I don’t want it to go to anything but for that person getting help and saving that person.”
The bill (HB 2422) is currently before the House Finance Committee.
Delegate Andrew Robinson (D-Kanawha, 36), the lead sponsor of the bill, said he knew Ryan almost his whole life.
“Ryan was a life long friend of mine from 2 or 3 years old all the way up. We went to elementary, middle school, high school and then we went off to WVU together,” Robinson said on “Talkline.” “Somewhere around there in college, Ryan fell into addiction and passed away.”
Before Ryan died, he went through three detox only programs and was on the waiting list for two long term programs.
The bill focuses on funding for people who may not have private insurance, Medicare or medicaid. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will collect public and private funds through grants, gifts and income from investments, according to the bill.
“This bill would give us some place for all that money to land. Hopefully, it will come through,” Robinson said. “Right now it does not have a funding source. It just creates a landing point and gives people, like Cece, the opportunity to go out and advocate for private funds to be donated to this fund.”
Brown said she doesn’t want another parent to suffer the grief of losing a child to an overdose and that it’s time to fix the problem.
“We didn’t get here overnight and now this problem belongs to all of us. We need to come together as a state and work on solving it. We need to take action,” she said.